Sun Wukong’s Names and Titles

I was recently contacted by a reader who said they were researching the Monkey King’s various nicknames. I had never thought about this before, so I thought I’d write an article to help them out. I am indebted to Irwen Wong of the Journey to the West Library blog for helping me with some of the more obscure terms. If you know of others that I missed, please let me know in the comments below or by email (see the “contact” button).

The vast majority of the terms listed here come from the standard 1592 edition of Journey to the West (Xiyouji西遊記; hereafter JTTW). I have also added a few terms from a precursor, The Story of How Tripitaka of the Great Tang Procures the Scriptures (Da Tang Sanzang qujing shihua大唐三藏取經詩話, c. late-13th-century) (Wivell, 1994). I did this to show that certain variations of names or titles have existed for centuries.

I. Mentioned in the narrative

These are names or titles mentioned by the narrative.

  1. Shihou (石猴, “Stone Monkey”) – Monkey’s first name according to chapter one (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 104). This is related to his birth from stone (fig. 1).
  2. Tianchan Shihou (天產石猴, “Heaven-Born Stone Monkey”) – His REAL name as listed in the ledgers of hell in chapter three (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 140).
  3. Xinyuan (心猿, “Mind Monkey/Ape”) – A Buddho-Daoist allegorical term for the disquieted thoughts and emotions that keep man trapped in Saṃsāra. It is used numerous times in chapter titles (e.g. ch. 7) and poems to refer to Monkey (see the material below figure three here).
  4. Jingong (金公, “Lord or Squire of Gold/Metal”) – A term used mainly in poems to refer to Monkey. It is an alternative reading of the component characters making up lead (qian, 鉛), namely jin (金) and gong (公). Lead was an important ingredient in immortal elixirs of external alchemy, and metal/gold (jin, 金) is connected to the earthly branch shen (申), which is associated with monkeys (see no. 9 here) (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 83 and p. 532 n. 3).
  5. Taiyi Sanxian (太乙散仙, “Leisurely or Minor Immortal of the Great Monad”) – Monkey’s rank within the hierarchy of cosmic immortals (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 471, for example). It essentially means that he is a divine being without a heavenly post.
  6. Taiyi Jinxian (太乙金仙, “Golden Immortal of the Great Monad”) – A seemingly embellished version of the previous term (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 2, p. 264, for example). It speaks of a higher rank. [1]
  7. Lingming Shihou (靈明石猴, “Stone Monkey of Numinous Wisdom”) – The name of his magic species according to the Buddha in chapter 58 (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 3, p. 115). [2] He is the first of four spiritual primates.
  8. Nanbian Mihou (難辨獼猴, “Indistinguishable Macaques”) – A term referring to both Sun Wukong and the Six-Eared Macaque. [3]

Fig. 1 – Monkey’s birth from stone by Zhang Moyi (larger version). Found on this article.

II. Given

These are names, titles, or insults that are given to or directed at our hero by other characters.

  1. Hou Xingzhe (猴行者, “Monkey Pilgrim”) – Monkey’s original religious name in the 13th-century JTTW. It is given by Tripitaka at the beginning of the journey (Wivell, 1994, p. 1182). The Xingzhe (行者) portion of this name carried over to the 1592 edition. See nos. 11 and 12 below.
  2. Gangjin Tiegu Dasheng (鋼筋鐵骨大聖, “Great Sage Steel Muscles and Iron Bones”) – His divine title in the 13th-century JTTW. It is bestowed by Tang Emperor Taizong at the end of the journey (Wivell, 1994, p. 1207). [4] The Dasheng (大聖) portion of this name carried over to the 1592 edition. See sec. III, nos. 8 and 9 below.
  3. Sun Wukong (孫悟空, “Monkey Awakened to Emptiness”) – The religious name given to him in chapter one by his first master, the Patriarch Subodhi (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 115). It predates the 1592 JTTW, first appearing as early as the early-Ming zaju play (see here, for example). It’s important to note that the name “Wukong” (悟空) might have been influenced by a Tang-era monk who traveled throughout India just like Xuanzang (on whom Tripitaka is based).
  4. Liu Xiao Ling Tong (六小龄童) – Monkey’s name in the human world.
  5. Pohou (潑猴, “Reckless or Brazen Monkey”) – An insult used throughout JTTW (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 118, for example).
  6. Shangxian (上仙, “High or Exalted Immortal”) – A respectful title used by the Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean in chapter three (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 134).
  7. Huaguo Shan Shuilian Dong Tianchan Yaohou (花果山水簾洞天產妖猴, “Heaven-Born Demon Monkey from the Water-Curtain Cave of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit”) – An insult used by King Qinguang, a Judge of Hell, in a memorial to the Jade Emperor in chapter three (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 142).
  8. Xiandi (賢弟, “Worthy Little Brother”) – A nicknamed used by the Bull Demon King (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 156, for example). Monkey is the smallest and therefore the last of seven sworn brothers (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 2, pp. 223-224).
  9. Yaoxian (妖仙, “Bogus Immortal”) – A category of nigh-immortal beings. He is called this by the Jade Emperor in chapter four and the Buddha in chapter seven, respectively (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, pp. 147-148 and p. 193).
  10. Bimawen (弼馬溫, “To Assist Horse Temperament”) – A minor post overseeing the celestial horse stables. Monkey is given this position in chapter four by the Jade Emperor. Yu (Wu & Yu, 2012) translates this as “BanHorsePlague” (vol. 1, p. 148, for example). [5] This is sometimes used as an insult (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 354, for example).
  11. Yaohou (妖猴, “Monster or Demon Monkey”) – An insult used numerous times throughout the novel (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 154, for example).
  12. Sun Xingzhe (孫行者, “Pilgrim Sun”) – Monkey’s second religious name. It is given to him in chapter 14 by Tripitaka (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 309). Xingzhe Sun (行者孫) is a less common variation. Refer back to no. 1. See also sec. III, no. 10 below.
  13. Xingzhe (行者, “Pilgrim”) – He is more commonly referred to by this name than Sun Xingzhe or Sun Wukong combined. [6] See section III here to learn about the significance of this title. Refer back to no. 1.
  14. Sun Zhanglao (孫長老, “Elder Sun”) – A respectful title used by people he has helped (Wu & Yu, vol. 2, p. 85, for example).
  15. Dashixiong (大師兄, “Elder Religious Brother”) – A term used by Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 2, p. 74, for example).
  16. Houtou (猴頭, “Monkey/Ape Head”) – An insult used by various characters, especially Tripitaka (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 2, p. 26, for example).
  17. Maolian Heshang (毛臉和尚, “Hairy-Faced Monk”) – A term that describes his features (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 407, for example).
  18. Maolian Lei Gong Zui de Heshang (毛臉雷公嘴的和尚, “Hairy-Faced, Thunder God-Beaked Monk) – A term that compares his elongated simian face to the beak of the bird-like thunder god Lei Gong (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 351, for example). Variations include Lei Gong Zui Heshang (雷公嘴和尚, “Thunder God-Beaked Monk”) and Lei Gong de Nanzi/Hanzi (雷公嘴的男子/漢子, “Thunder God-Beaked Man”).
  19. Dou Zhansheng Fo (鬥戰勝佛, “Buddha Victorious in Strife or Victorious Fighting Buddha”) – His Buddha title bestowed by the Tathagata at the end of the journey in chapter 100 (fig. 2) (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 4, p. 381).

Fig. 2 – A religiously accurate drawing of Monkey as Dou zhansheng fo by NinjaHaku21 (larger version).

III. Self-Named

These are names, titles, or pseudonyms taken by Monkey himself. These do not include the names of the innumerable gods, monsters, or humans that he disguises himself as. They only refer to him personally.

  1. Huaguo Shan Ziyun Dong Bawan Siqian Tongtou Tie’e Mihou Wang (花果山紫雲洞八萬四千銅頭鐵額獼猴王, “Bronze-Headed, Iron-Browed King of the Eighty-Four Thousand Monkeys of the Purple Cloud Grotto on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit”) – How he introduces himself to Tripitaka in the 13th-century JTTW (Wivell, 1994, p. 1182). The “Monkey King” (Mihou Wang, 獼猴王) portion of this name carried over to the 1592 edition but was represented with different Chinese characters. See nos. 2 and 3 below. This article discusses the term mihou (獼猴).
  2. Meihou Wang (美猴王, “Handsome Monkey King”) – The title that he takes upon ascending the throne in chapter one (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 106).
  3. Hou Wang (猴王, “Monkey King”) – He is more commonly referred to by this name than Meihou wang. [7]
  4. Huaguo Shan Shuilian Dong Dongzhu (花果山水簾洞洞主, “Lord of the Water-Curtain Cave in the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit”) – How he introduces himself in chapter two to a demon king plaguing his people (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 127).
  5. Huaguo Shan Shuilian Dong Tiansheng Shenren (花果山水簾洞天生聖人, “Heaven-Born Sage From the Water-Curtain Cave in the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit”) – How he introduces himself to the Ten Kings of Hell in chapter three (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 140).
  6. Lao Sun (老孫, “Old Sun”) – A term that he uses many, many times throughout the novel. Yu (Wu & Yu, 2012) translates this as “Old Monkey” (vol. 1, p. 128, for example).
  7. Qitian Dasheng (齊天大聖, “Great Sage Equaling Heaven”) – The seditious title that he takes during his rebellion against heaven (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 151). Monkey is worshiped by this name in modern Chinese Folk Religion (fig. 3). Refer back to sec. II, no. 2.
  8. Dasheng (大聖, “Great Sage”) – He is more commonly referred to by this title than Qitian dasheng. [8] Variations include Dasheng Yeye (大聖爺爺, “[Paternal] Grandpa Great Sage”) and Sun Dasheng (孫大聖, “Great Sage Sun”). Refer back to sec. II, no. 2.
  9. Zhexing Sun (者行孫, “Grimpil Sun”) – A pseudonym taken in chapter 34 when Monkey secretly escapes imprisonment and then presents himself as his own brother in an attempt to trick demons (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 130). The strange English rendering is Yu’s (Wu & Yu, 2012) way of accounting for the change from Xingzhe Sun (孫, “Pilgrim Sun”) to Zhexing Sun (孫, “Grimpil Sun”). Refer back to sec. II, no. 11.
  10. Sun Waigong (孫外公, “([Maternal] Grandpa Sun”) – A name that he uses to taunt demons (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 407, for example). It’s a cheeky way of saying, “I’m your elder, so you better submit to me.”
  11. Sun Yeye (孫爺爺, “([Paternal] Grandpa Sun”) – Same.
  12. Sun Erguan (孫二官, “Second Master Sun”) – A pseudonym taken in chapter 84 in order to investigate an anti-Buddhist kingdom under the guise of a horse trader. The other pilgrims take similar names (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 4, p. 132).

Fig. 3 – A Great Sage idol from Shengfo Tang (聖佛堂, “Sage Buddha Hall”) in Beigang Township, Yunlin County, Taiwan (larger version). It is one of many Monkey King Temples on the island. Photo by the author.


1) The Jinxian (金仙) of Monkey’s title Taiyi Jinxian (太乙金仙, “Golden Immortal of the Great Monad”) is associated with far more lofty figures. For example, a poem in chapter one refers to the Patriarch Subodhi as the Dajue Jinxian (大覺金仙, “Golden Immortal of Great Awareness”) (see section 2.3 here).

2) I’m placing the name in this category because the Tathagata is stating a fact instead of bestowing it as a proper name.

3) Yu (Wu & Yu, 2012) translates this as the “macaque hard to distinguish” (vol. 4, p. 360). But I think that the original Chinese term is likely referring to both Sun and Six Ears. Their battle across the cosmos is counted in chapter 99 as the 46th of 81 hardships that Tripitaka was fated to endure (Wu &Yu, 2012, vol. 4, p. 360).

4) Wivell (1994) translates the name as “Great Sage of Bronze Muscles and Iron Bones” (p. 1207). But the gang (鋼) of Gangjin tiegu dasheng (鋼筋鐵骨大聖) means “steel.”

5) This references the homophonous term Bimawen (避馬瘟, “avoid the horse plague”), the historical practice of placing monkeys in horse stables to ward off equine sickness (see the 02-26-22 update here).

6) The term Xingzhe (行者, “pilgrim”) appears 4,355 times, while Sun xingzhe and Sun Wukong appear 239 and 127 times, respectively. Xingzhe is used numerous times to refer to other characters, such as Guanyin’s disciple Hui’an (惠岸行者, 6 times; a.k.a. Mucha or Mokṣa, 木叉行者, 9 times), but the vast majority refer to Monkey.

7) The term Hou wang (猴王, “Monkey King”) appears 185 times, while Meihou wang (美猴王) appears 42 times.

8) The term Dasheng (大聖, “Great Sage”) appears 1,273 times, while Qitian dasheng (齊天大聖) appears 103 times. I believe Dasheng is also used to refer to the Buddha a few times, so please keep this in mind.


Wivell, C.S. (1994). The Story of How the Monk Tripitaka of the Great Country of T’ang Brought Back the Sūtras. In V. Mair (Ed.), The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature (pp. 1181-1207). New York: Columbia University Press.

Wu, C., & Yu, A. C. (2012). The Journey to the West (Vols. 1-4) (Rev. ed.). Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

Archive #42 – PDFs of Journey to the West Translations

Note: My blog is not monetized, so I am not making any money from this post. My hope is that the PDFs will make this legendary story more accessible to a wider audience. If you enjoyed the digital versions, please, please, please support the official releases.

Last updated: 08-17-2023

I’m happy to host a number of foreign language translations of the noted Chinese classic Journey to the West (Xiyouji西遊記, 1592 CE). This archive currently houses the following editions:

  1. English
  2. French (only part two of two)
  3. German
  4. Hungarian
  5. Italian (see below)
  6. Polish
  7. Romanian
  8. Russian
  9. Spanish
  10. Thai
  11. Vietnamese

As of this writing, I don’t yet have a modern Japanese translation. But you can read an original copy of the 1835 translation here.

I have also included translations of the unofficial sequel, A Supplement to the Journey to the West (Xiyoubu, 西遊補, 1640), in the following languages:

  1. English
  2. Hungarian

I will add more languages to this archive as they become available. Please let me know if you have access to other editions.

Journey to the West (Xiyouji)

1. English

1.A. Complete

1) This is a PDF for The Journey to the West (2012 Rev. ed.) translated by Anthony C. Yu.

Archive #11 – PDFs of the Journey to the West 2012 Revised Edition

2) This is a text PDF for Journey to the West (1993/2020) translated by W. J. F. Jenner.

PDF File

Click to access Wu-Chengen-Journey-to-the-West-4-Volume-Boxed-Set-2003.pdf

The four-volume box set in my collection (larger version).

1.B. Abridged

1) This is a PDF for Monkey (1942/1984) translated by Arthur Waley in 30 chapters (1 to 15, 18 and 19, 22, 37 to 39, 44 to 46, 47 to 49, and 98 to 100). See past book covers here.

PDF File

Click to access Wu-Chengen_-Arthur-Waley-Monkey-Grove-Press-1984.pdf

2) This is a PDF for The Monkey and the Monk (2006): An Abridgement of The Journey to the West translated by Anthony C. Yu in 31 chapters (1 to 15, 18 and 19, 22 and 23, 44 to 46, 53 to 55, 57 and 58, 84, and 98 to 100)

PDF File

Click to access Anthony-C.-Yu-The-Monkey-and-the-Monk_-An-Abridgment-of-The-Journey-to-the-West-2006.pdf

The official cover (larger version)

1.C. Audio Drama

I just learned of “The Fifth Monkey” and their Journey to the West – An Audio Drama Series, which presents a new English translation alongside the original Chinese. They explain:

One reason that led our team to start this audio drama project is to correct some of the mistranslations found in the Yu/Jenner translations. Most of them are very minor and we certainly understand what could have led to those mistakes, but we think it is worth exploring how we can help bring a more accurate presentation of the original text in the English language (source).

The official logo (larger version).

2. French

This is a PDF for volume two (of two) for La Pérégrination vers l’Ouest (Xiyou ji) (1991) translated by André Lévy in 100 chapters. I was told by one French academic that this edition “is one of the best available in Western languages.” Hopefully I will find a PDF for volume one in the future.

Thank you to jyeet on the Journey to the West discord for locating the file.

PDF Files


Vol. 2

The original two-volume boxed edition (larger version). Image found here.

3. German

This is a PDF for Die Reise in den Westen. Ein klassischer chinesischer Roman (2016) translated by Eva Lüdi Kong in 100 chapters. It was awarded the Leipzig Book Fair prize in 2017. This version was converted from an ebook.

PDF File

Click to access German-JTTW-Die-Reise-in-den-Westen.pdf

The official cover (larger version)

4. Hungarian

These are text PDFs for Nyugati utazás: avagy a majomkirály története (1969/1980) translated by Barnabás Csongor in two volumes. While the work covers the full 100 chapters, I’ve been told that it deletes the poems and occasionally paraphrases long-winded sections of text.

Thank you to Twitter user Jakabfi Károly for locating the files.

PDF Files

Vol 1

Vol 2

The official covers for volumes one and two (larger version). Image found here.

5. Italian

[Note 10-19-23: I was asked to remove the PDF from the archive per the publisher. I’m leaving the title here so others will know an Italian translation exists.]

The Italian text is called Viaggio in occidente (1998/2008). It was translated by Serafino Balduzzi and published in two volumes. It is based on the French edition published in 1991. The work covers all 100 chapters.

6. Polish

This is a PDF for Małpi bunt (1976) translated by Tadeusz Żbikowski. It is a 14 chapter abridgement of the first 20 chapters of the original.

Thank you to Twitter user Friend_Pretend for locating the file.

PDF File

Click to access Polish-JTTW-Malpi-bunt-1976.pdf

The official cover (larger version).

7. Romanian

This is a text PDF for Călătorie spre soareapune (1971) translated by Corneliu Rudescu and Fănică N. Gheorghe. It appears to be an abridgment.

Thank you to greencicadarchivist on the Journey to the West discord for locating the file.

PDF File

Click to access Romanian-JTTW-U_Ceng_En_Calatorie_Spre_Soare_Apune_pdf.pdf

The official cover (larger version).

8. Russian

8.1. Complete

These are PDFs for Путеше́ствие на За́пад (1959) translated by A. Rogachev (vols. 1-2) and V. Kolokolov (vols. 3-4). It covers all 100 chapters.

PDF Files

Vol 1

Vol. 2

Vol. 3

Vol. 4

The four-volume hardcover edition (larger version).

8.2. Abridged

This is a text PDF for Неприятность в небесах. Из китайской мифологии (1926) translated by Yakov Arakin. It is a poetic retelling of the first seven chapters of the novel.

Thank you to Adelar Eleramo for locating the file.

PDF File

Click to access Russian-JTTW-poem-Yakov-Arakin.pdf

The official cover (larger version).

9. Spanish

This is a text PDF for Viaje al Oeste: Las aventuras del Rey Mono (2022) translated by Enrique P. Gatón and Imelda Huang-Wang in 100 chapters.

PDF File

Click to access viaje-al-oeste-las-aventuras-del-rey-mono.pdf

The official cover (larger version)

10. Thai

This is a PDF for ไซอิ๋ว (2004/2010). It appears to be based on a four-volume edition translated by one Mr. Tin (นายติ่น) and published from 1906 to 1909. I believe it covers all 100 chapters.

Thank you again to greencicadarchivist for locating the file.

PDF File

Click to access Thai-JTTW-ไซอิ๋ว.pdf

The official cover (larger version)

11. Vietnamese

This is a text PDF for Tây Du Ký translated by Như Sơn, Mai Xuân Hải, and Phương Oanh. The 100 chapters were originally split between 10 volumes and published from 1982 to 1988. The volumes were later transcribed and combined to make a single eBook via an online community in 2013 (see here). I have converted it into a PDF.

PDF File

Click to access Vietnamese-JTTW-Tay-Du-Ky.pdf

The covers for the original ten volumes (larger version). Image found here.

A Supplement to the Journey to the West (Xiyoubu)

1. English

A) This is a PDF for Further Adventures on the Journey to the West – Master of Silent Whistle Studio (2020) translated by Qianchng Li and Robert E. Hegel.

PDF File

Click to access Further-Adventures-on-the-Journey-to-the-West-Master-of-Silent-Whistle-Studio-2020.pdf

The official cover (larger version)

B) This is a PDF for Tower of Myriad Mirrors: A Supplement to Journey to the West (2000) translated by Shuen-fu Lin and Larry J. Schulz. This version was converted from Mobi.

PDF File

Click to access English-Xiyoubu-Lin-Shuen-fu_Dong-Yue-Schulz-Tung-Yueh-The-tower-of-myriad-mirrors_-a-supplement-to-Journey-to-the-West.pdf

The official cover (larger version)

2. Hungarian

This is a text PDF for Ami a nyugati utazásból kimaradt (1957/1980) translated by Barnabás Csongor.

My thanks again to Twitter user Jakabfi Károly.

PDF File

Click to access Hungarian-Xiyoubu-tung_jue_ami_a_nyugati_utazasbol_kimaradt.pdf

The official cover (larger version).

Update: 08-17-23

I forgot to mention that I have previously archived two other Chinese classics. The first is Creation of the Gods (Fengshen yanyi, 封神演義, c. 1620; a.k.a. Investiture of the Gods), a sort of prequel to JTTW.

Archive #17 – PDFs of Creation of the Gods Library of Chinese Classics Chinese-English Bilingual Edition (Vols. 1-4)

The second is Journey to the South (Nanyouji南遊記, c. 1570s-1580s). This is NOT a direct sequel to JTTW. It instead follows the adventures of a martial god from Chinese folk religion. However, Sun Wukong makes a guest appearance in chapters one and seventeen.

Archive #40 – Journey to the South (Nanyouji) English Translation PDF


These have been posted for educational purposes. No malicious copyright infringement is intended. If you enjoyed the digital versions, please support the official releases.


Archive #41 – PDFs of The Illustrated Journey to the West (Ehon Saiyuki, 繪本西遊記, 1835)

While the earliest known published edition of Journey to the West (Xiyouji西遊記) hails from the 13th-century, the standard 1592 edition of the novel appears to have arrived on Japan’s shores at a relatively late date. For example, the 18th-century translator Nishida Korenori (西田維則; penname: Kuchiki sanjin, 口木山人) began publishing Japanese translations of the stories in 1758, ultimately publishing a total of 26 chapters before his death. Others picked up where he left off, including Ishimaro Sanjin (石麻呂山人) (ch. 27-39 and later 40-47), Ogata Teisai (尾方貞斎) (ch. 48-53), and Gakutei Kyuzan 岳亭丘山 (ch. 54-65). This incomplete version, known as The Popular Journey to the West (Tsuzoku saiyuki, 通俗西遊記, 1758-1831) was published in five instalments over 31 volumes. The first complete version of the novel, The Illustrated Journey to the West (Ehon Saiyuki, 繪本西遊記), was published in 40 volumes a few years later in 1835 (Tanaka, 1988, as cited in Chien, 2017, p. 21).

The latter is full of breathtaking woodblock prints, which are, in my honest opinion, FAR superior to those appearing in the aforementioned standard edition. While commonly attributed to Hokusai (北斎), this art was the joint work of Ohara Toya (大原東野), Utagawa Toyohiro (歌川豐廣), and Katsushika Taito II (二代葛飾戴斗) (Van Rappard-Boon, 1982, p. 147). Most are black and white (fig. 1-4), but a few are in color.

Here, I would like to archive PDF scans of the complete Japanese translation of Journey to the West. I hope it is useful to my readers.

Fig. 1 – The monk Xuanzang/Sanzang (larger version). Fig. 2 – Sun Wukong (larger version). Fig. 3 – Zhu Wuneng/Bajie (larger version). Fig. 4 – Sha Wujing (larger version). Woodblock prints from vol. 1, pp. 8-11.

I. Archive Links

Vol. 1

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-1.pdf

Vol. 2

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-2.pdf

Vol. 3

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-3.pdf

Vol. 4

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-4.pdf

Vol. 5

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-5.pdf

Vol. 6

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-6.pdf

Vol. 7

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-7.pdf

Vol. 8

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-8.pdf

Vol. 9

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-9.pdf

Vol. 10

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-10.pdf

Vol. 11

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-11.pdf

Vol. 12

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-12.pdf

Vol. 13

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-13.pdf

Vol. 14

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-14.pdf

Vol. 15

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-15.pdf

Vol. 16

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-16.pdf

Vol. 17

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-17.pdf

Vol. 18

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-18.pdf

Vol. 19

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-19.pdf

Vol. 20

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-20.pdf

Vol. 21

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-21.pdf

Vol. 22

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-22.pdf

Vol. 23

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-23.pdf

Vol. 24

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-24.pdf

Vol. 25

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-25.pdf

Vol. 26

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-26.pdf

Vol. 27

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-27.pdf

Vol. 28

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-28.pdf

Vol. 29

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-29.pdf

Vol. 30

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-30.pdf

Vol. 31

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-31.pdf

Vol. 32

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-32.pdf

Vol. 33

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-33.pdf

Vol. 34

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-34.pdf

Vol. 35

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-35.pdf

Vol. 36

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-36.pdf

Vol. 37

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-37.pdf

Vol. 38

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-38.pdf

Vol. 39

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-39.pdf

Vol. 40

Click to access Saiyuki-1835-No-40.pdf

II. Thanks

I originally retrieved the PDF scans from this archive. My thanks to them.


Chien, P. (2017). A Journey to the Translation of Verse in the Five English Versions of Xiyouji [Unpublished Master’s dissertation]. National Taiwan Normal University. Retrieved from

Van Rappard-Boon, C. (1982). Hokusai and His School: Japanese Prints C.1800-1840. Netherlands: Rijksprntenkabinet /  Rijksmuseum.

How Tall are the Main Characters from Journey to the West?

Last updated: 08-26-2023

A member of a Monkey King Facebook group I belong to posted a Chinese informational picture titled “Journey to the West: The Four Body Height Ratios of the Master and His Disciples” (Xiyou ji: Shitu siren shengao duibi, 西游记 师徒四人身高对比) (fig. 1). Each character is depicted with their correct corresponding height, ranging from Sun Wukong as the shortest to Sha Wujing as the tallest. The bottom of the picture provides some measurements:

The original novel describes Bajie’s body as being 1 zhang tall. Three chi is 1 meter. One zhang is around 3.3 meters. Sha Monk is 1.2 zhang, which is close to 4 meters. The Tang monk is 1.8 meters. The Lord Great Sage is 4 chi, or approximately 1.3 meters.


The information is overgeneralized and at times conjectural, but I figured the picture would be interesting to my followers on Twitter. Little did I know that it would explode in popularity. As of this writing, my tweet has 940 likes (most of these received in a few days). This indicates that not many people were aware of the great height disparity between the pilgrims. I’ve therefore decided to write an article recording what Journey to the West actually says about each character’s height. 

I believe that the creator of the informational picture got their measurements from this essay, for it has the exact same title and very similar material (Zhongshi Damei Shenghuo [ZDS], 2020). I will use the claims therein to compare and contrast with the actual text from the novel.

Fig. 1 – The Chinese informational picture listing the pilgrims’ heights (larger version). I unfortunately don’t know who the original artist is. A reverse image search didn’t turn up anything. This page has the earliest appearance of the informational picture that I can find.

1. Measurements

ZDS (2020) uses a mixture of the ancient Chinese chi (尺) and zhang (丈) and the modern meter (mi, 米). The chi (and subsequently the zhang) varied at the local level at different times. During the Ming (1368-1644), when Journey to the West was published, the measurements equaled:

  • One chi (尺) = roughly 31.8 cm (12.3 in)
  • Ten chi = one zhang (丈)
  • one zhang (丈) = roughly 3.18 m (10.43 ft) (Jiang, 2005, p. xxxi).

Yes, the novel is set during the Tang (618-907), but many elements of the story (e.g. language, religion, mythos, martial arts, etc.) are filtered through the lens of the Ming. Therefore, it’s appropriate to use Ming-era measurements.

2. Heights

The characters are listed below from shortest to tallest.

(Note: I will be relying on the Wu & Yu (2012) translation. But since it uses “feet” instead of the original chi or zhang, I’ll alter the source throughout the article for more accuracy.)

2.1. Sun Wukong

See my previous articles discussing Monkey’s height (here and here).

ZDS (2020) states that Sun is “4 chi, that is less than 1.3 m [4.26 ft] or the same height as a child” (4 chi, yejiushi budao 1.3 mi, gen haitong yiban gao, 4尺,也就是不到1.3米,跟孩童一般高). But they miss an important distinction. The novel twice describes him as being “not four chi tall” (buman sichi, 不滿四尺), meaning that Monkey is an unknown height below 1.272 m (4.17 ft).

The phrase is first spoken by the Monstrous King of Havoc (Hunshi mowang, 混世魔王) in chapter 2:

When the Monstrous King saw him, he laughed and said, “You’re not four chi tall (emphasis added), nor are you thirty years old; you don’t even have weapons in your hands. How dare you be so insolent, looking for me to settle accounts?” (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 128).


The second is said hundreds of years later by the Great King Yellow Wind (Huangfeng dawang, 黃風大王) in chapter 21:

The old monster took a careful look and saw the diminutive figure of Pilgrim—less than four feet (emphasis added), in fact—and his sallow cheeks. He said with a laugh: “Too bad! Too bad! I thought you were some kind of invincible hero. But you are only a sickly ghost, with nothing more than your skeleton left!” (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 1, p. 408).


Some readers may wonder why such a powerful character can be so tiny. This is because the novel describes Sun as a literal monkey. Refer back to this article for more information.

2.2. The Tang Monk

I have yet to formally write about Tripitaka‘s height.

ZDS (2020) suggests that the “Tang Monk should be about 1.8 m [5.90 ft]” (Tangseng yinggai zai 1.8 mi zuoyou, 唐僧应该在1.8米左右). This estimate is based around the size of a stone box used in chapter 49 to imprison him:

Pilgrim … mov[ed] towards the rear of the palace. He looked, and sure enough there was a stone box, somewhat like a trough that people use in a pigpen or a stone coffin. Measuring it, he found it to be approximately six chi in length (emphasis added). He crawled on top of it and soon heard the pitiful sound of Tripitaka’s weeping coming from inside (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol. 2, p. 347).

行者 … 徑直尋到宮後看,果有一個石匣,卻像人家槽房裡的豬槽,又似人間一口石棺材之樣,量量足有六尺長短。卻伏在上面,聽了一會,只聽得三藏在裡面嚶嚶的哭哩。

Six chi is 1.9 m or 6.25 ft. Tripitaka would obviously be shorter given the inside thickness of the stone walls, but the novel doesn’t provide such detailed information. This means that the 1.8 m estimate is conjecture. So, what other proof is there?

ZDS (2020) also cites a poem from chapter 54 as evidence that the Tank Monk is “tall and handsome” (yougao youshuai, 又高又帅):

What handsome features!
What dignified looks!
Teeth white like silver bricks,
Ruddy lips and a square mouth.
His head’s flat-topped, his forehead, wide and full;
Lovely eyes, neat eyebrows, and a chin that’s long.
Two well-rounded ears betoken someone brave.
He is all elegance, a gifted man.
What a youthful, clever, and comely son of love,
Worthy to wed Western Liang’s gorgeous girl! (Wu & Yu, 2012, vol.  3, p. 55). [1]


But, as can be seen, the verse mentions nothing about his height, only his beauty.

Hence, there isn’t enough information in the novel to officially say how tall Tripitaka is. But for those demanding some sort of answer, we can always speculate using real world data.

According to one study, out of a sample size of 28,044 Chinese men from 31 provinces/autonomous regions, the average modern height is 169 cm (5.54 ft). Additionally, this Chinese article references a study claiming that men from ancient times up to the Ming were between 165 cm (1.65 m or 5.41 ft) and 167 cm (1.67 m or 5.47 ft). This is obviously shorter than the 1.8 m suggested above.

Therefore, the most we can say is that the Tang Monk would be average historical height.

2.3. Zhu Bajie

I’ve written about Zhu Bajie’s height in the past (see here).

ZDS (2020) writes that Zhu’s “snout is 3 chi long” (zui chang 3 chi, 嘴长3尺). This is based on a descriptive poem from chapter 85:

A snout, pestlelike, over three chi long (emphasis added)
And teeth protruding like silver prongs
Bright like lightning a pair of eyeballs round,
Two ears that whip the wind in hu-hu sound.
Arrowlike hairs behind his head are seen;
His whole body’s skin is both coarse and green.
His hands hold up a thing bizarre and queer:
A muckrake of nine prongs which all men fear.

(Wu & Yu 2012, vol. 4, p. 149).


But, again, an important distinction is missed. Zhu’s nose is “over three chi long,” or larger than 95.4 cm (3.12 ft), which is over half the height of an average humanZDS (2020) says this measurement indicates that: “According to the laws of biology, (Zhu’s) body is approximately 3.5 m [11.48 ft]” (Anzhao shengwuxue de guilu, shenti yue 3.5 mi zuoyou, 按照生物学的规律,身体约3.5米左右). However, they never explain what laws they are referring to.

The only other information about Zhu’s size that I’m aware of appears in chapter 29. Upon entering a new kingdom, Tripitaka describes his two remaining disciples. [2] He starts with the pig spirit:

“My elder disciple has the surname of Zhu, and his given names are Wuneng and Eight Rules. He has a long snout and fanglike teeth, tough bristles on the back of his head, and huge, fanlike ears. He is coarse and husky, and he causes even the wind to rise when he walks (emphasis added) …” (Wu & Yu 2012, vol. 2, p. 51).

我那大徒弟姓豬,名悟能八戒,他生得長嘴獠牙,剛鬃扇耳,身粗肚大,行路生風 …

This tells us that Zhu has a large body capable of stirring the wind when he moves. But it’s important to note that Tripitaka’s subsequent dialogue assigns Sha Wujing a specific height (see below). This points to Zhu being shorter in comparison.

Therefore, just like the Tank Monk, there isn’t enough info to officially say how tall Zhu is. But we can again speculate using real world data.

My friend Barbara Campbell (blog) suggested that I use extinct prehistoric pigs as reference. A prime example is Megalochoerus homungous, which has been estimated to be 3.8 m (12.46 ft) long, 1.8 to 2.2 m (5.9 to 7.21 ft) at the shoulder, and up to 1,600 kg (3,527.39 lbs) (Uchytel, n.d.). A reconstruction by the paleo artist Roman Uchytel presents a towering creature with a head half as long as a man’s body (fig. 2). This is quite similar to the size of Zhu’s nose. Even with it’s head facing forward, a bipedal M. homungous would still be around 3.8 m (12.46 ft) tall. But as you’ll read below, this is too tall if Zhu is supposed to be shorter than Sha.

So how tall is Zhu? Your guess is as good as mine. But for those demanding some sort of answer, we can use human arm span to body height ratio, which is roughly 1:1. Using 1.8 m (5.9 ft), or the lower estimate for M. homungous‘ shoulder height, Zhu could be as much as 3.6 m (11.81 ft). But I am in no way comfortable with this estimate. It’s 100% pure conjecture, and I think it is still too tall.

Fig. 2 – A reconstruction of M. homungous by Roman Uchytel (larger version). Mr. Uchytel graciously gave me permission to use a watermarked version of his art for free. Please consult his website here.

2.4. Sha Wujing

I’ve previously mentioned Sha’s height in an article about Zhu Bajie’s appearance (refer back to here).

ZDS (2020) writes that Sha is “One zhangchi, nearly 4 m” (yizhang erchi, chabuduo 4 mi le, 一丈二尺,差不多4米了). This is based on Tripitaka’s continued dialogue with the foreign king in chapter 29:

“… My second disciple has the surname of Sha, and his religious names are Wujing and Monk. He is one zhang two chi tall and three span wide across his shoulders (emphasis added). His face is like indigo, his mouth, a butcher’s bowl; his eyes gleam and his teeth seem a row of nails” (Wu & Yu 2012, vol. 2, p. 51).


This tells us that the monstrous monk is a whopping 3.816 m (12.51 ft) tall, with an exceptionally broad body.

Fun fact: Sha Wujing’s height is based on his giant antecedent, an obscure desert spirit appearing in the 7th-century biography of  the historical monk Xuanzang (on whom Tripitaka is based). The spirit comes to the cleric in a dream to admonish him for sleeping on the journey to India:

[Xuanzang] dreamed that he saw a giant deity several zhang tall (emphasis added), holding a halberd and a flag in his hands. The deity said to him, “Why are you sleeping here instead of forging ahead?” (based on Huili & Li, 1995, p. 28).


“[S]everal zhang” would be 3 zhang (9.54 m or 31.29 ft) or more tall! That’s one big spirit!

3. Conclusion 

Journey to the West: The Four Body Height Ratios of the Master and His Disciples” is an informational picture that depicts the pilgrims with their correct corresponding heights. The bottom of the picture also provides measurements to supplement the illustration. These numbers were likely borrowed from ZDS (2020), an online article with the exact same name and very similar material. According to the essay, Sun Wukong is less than 1.3 m (4.26 ft), the Tang Monk is about 1.8 m (5.90 ft), Zhu Bajie is 3.5 m (11.48 ft), and Sha Wujing is nearly 4 m (13.12 ft). However, this information is overgeneralized and at times conjectural.

The original Chinese text of Journey to the West naturally gives more accurate information. But, unfortunately, the book only lists specific heights for two characters: Monkey is shorter than 1.272 m (4.17 ft) and Sha is 3.816 m (12.51 ft). As for the other two, not enough information is given for Tripitaka or Zhu to officially say how tall they are. However, speculating with real world historical height data suggests that the literary monk could be somewhere between 1.65 m (5.41 ft) and 1.67 m (5.47 ft), which is obviously shorter than the 1.8 m cited above. But even using prehistoric pigs as a reference, Zhu Bajie is the hardest to calculate since the novel indirectly implies that he is shorter than Sha. I used the lower end shoulder height estimate of the extinct M. homungous to suggest that Zhu could be as much as 3.6 m (11.81 ft) tall. But I think this is still too big.

On an interesting note, Sha’s great height is based on his giant antecedent, a desert spirit appearing in the historical Xuanzang’s 7th-century biography. The spirit is described as being 9.54 m (31.29 ft) or more!

Update: 08-26-23

Tumblr user digitalagepulao has drawn lovely versions of the JTTW pilgrims (fig. 3). And while some of their heights may differ slightly from those discussed above, the overall ratios are correct. I love the designs.

This is for digitalagepulao’s own “Expedition to the West au” (alternate universe) JTTW storyline based on a previous article of mine.

Fig. 3 – The height ratios for digitalagepulao’s JTTW character designs (larger version). Used with permission.


1) “Western Liang’s gorgeous girl” is referring to the Queen of Womanland.

2) The Tang Monk had previously expelled Monkey from the group in chapter 27 (Wu & Yu, vol. 2, pp. 26-28).


Huili, & Li, R. (1995). A Biography of the Tripiṭaka Master of the Great Ci’en Monastery of the Great Tang Dynasty. Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist translation and research.

Jiang, Y. (2005). The Great Ming Code / Da Ming Lu. Vancouver, Wa: University of Washington Press.

Uchytel, R. (n.d.). Megalochoerus. Prehistoric Fauna. Retrieved from

Wu, C., & Yu, A. C. (2012). The Journey to the West (Vols. 1-4) (Rev. ed.). Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

Zhongshi Damei Shenghuo. (2020, August 18). Xiyou ji: Shitu siren shengao duibi [Journey to the West: The Four Body Height Ratios of the Master and His Disciples]. Sohu. Retrieved from



Archive #39 – Journey to the West Adaptations

The Journey to the West Research blog is proud to host an entry by our friend Monkey Ruler (Twitter and Tumblr). They have graciously written an essay on the global nature of Journey to the West adaptations, as well as provided a link to their ongoing project recording JTTW media (fig. 1). As of the publishing of this article, it includes a long list of almost 570 movies, 90 TV shows, and 160 video games! – Jim

Fig. 1 – Depictions of Sun Wukong from adaptations produced over 50 years apart: (left) Havoc in Heaven (Danao tiangong, 大鬧天宮, 1961) and (right) Monkey King: Hero is Back (Xiyouji zhi Dasheng guilai, 西遊記之大聖歸來, lit: “Journey to the West: Return of the Great Sage,” 2015) (larger version). Courtesy of Monkey Ruler.

I. Media adaptations

This started out as a collection of Xiyouji (西遊記; lit: “Journey to the West,” 1592) movies and TV shows for the sake of a Master’s class project; it was simple enough to look for Xiyouji media and start adding them to a collection datasheet. But even when the project was over, I kept finding more and more adaptations, even stumbling across others trying to show the magnitude of how much this novel has encompassed popular culture throughout the centuries. It has been told and re-told again and again in oral and published literature, plays, art, songs, poems, etc., and now on the big and small screens. Audiences are re-introduced to the image of Sun Wukong and his fellow pilgrims with every new media addition.

What really inspired me was the book Transforming Monkey: Adaptations and Representation of a Chinese Epic (2018) by Hongmei Sun, where she explained in depth the cultural impact that Sun Wukong (fig. 2) and Xiyouji has had on Chinese media, as well as how this loose set of franchises have come to represent Chinese culture as these shows and movies have become more globally accessible. Xiyouji is such an iconic cultural universe that it can be both heavily entertaining while still being so personal to audiences of any generation depending on how the artist/writer portrays their interpretation of these characters and their stories. 

There hasn’t been a lot written about how these interpretations influence modern Xiyouji adaptations despite how the story has greatly influenced popular culture.

Fig. 2 – The front cover of Transforming Monkey (2018) (larger version).

Xiyouji is such an influential story, one that will continue to grow more and more globally known throughout time because it is such an all-encompassing piece that can cover politics, identities, and allegories, while still being a very personal and interpersonal work that artists or writers can relate to. 

However, even with these layers of meaning and symbolism to be found, the story never loses the charming and entertaining aspects that can and have captured audiences. Despite being published over 430 years ago (with a history stretching back even further), Xiyouji is still able to relate to modern audiences through its allegories of oppression, rebellion, and self-identity. It has the capability to resonate with any generation depending on what artists or writers at the time wish to highlight or personally connect with themselves or their current world around them, using Xiyouji as a medium for their own struggles.

As Xiyouji starts to become more and more globally known, it is important to understand and resonate that this is still a Chinese story and how to address further adaptations with cross-nation gaps in both translation and cultural differences. There are media forms that are far more exploitative of the mythical journey, creating impractical scenarios of the narrative and thus changing the message of the story and characters completely. However, there needs to be an acknowledgment of what doesn’t work as Xiyouji adaptations due to the ever-changing zeitgeist in not only its home of origin but introducing it to a global sphere as it adds influence. 

In order to see what works for adaptations, there needs to be an acknowledgment of what is the core of the story and just why it remains popular, story-beat or character-wise. For example, Sun Wukong can be used as a great model for positive ambivalence in media, moving away from set limits of a single stereotype and rather being a constant motion of new ideas and new identities. Monkey has been changed from a mischievous monkey to a revolutionary hero to a post-modern rebel against authority throughout the years. But even throughout the constant changes and interpretations, people never lose sight of what the nature of Sun Wukong is: rebelliousness, variability, optimism, and persistence. 

Monkey is a transcending character as he is able to mediate contradictions within his own design, one being his gold-banded staff, a symbol of breaking barriers, and his golden filet (fig. 3), a symbol of limits. These two simple but prominent pieces of iconography immediately tell audiences who the character is supposed to be and what they are about.

Fig. 3 – A modern replica of Monkey’s golden filet or headband (larger version).

While it is entertaining and able to be enjoyed by younger audiences, Xiyouji still has a deeper meaning that can be interpreted and recognized into adulthood. This is one of the few stories that I imagine can be adapted again and again without the issue of overlap as there are so many ways people can personally connect with these characters. 

Having that any generation, anyone really can find enjoyment in this media, and perhaps even be inspired to read the novel itself.

II. Archive link

Please consult the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet linked below. They are listed as “Movie Information,” “Movie Links,” “Honorary Shows,” “Game Information,” “Game Pictures,” “Honorary Games,” and “Sources.” – Jim